The Leadership Problems

In previous post regarding leadership problems, the company’s perspectives were considered. In this post, the problem will be defined under the States’ perspectives.

The Boomers are exiting because they are aging and leave the leadership jobs vacant. Other people think that Boomers are not leaving because the health care is better. They will hold top management positions longer. The fact is that one out of five leadership positions will be vacant in the next few years. Therefore, it is critical that companies should be thinking about new replacement in the next decade.

It is no longer Apple’s query as to who would replace Steve Job once he stepped down. An estimation of 10 million baby boomers eligible to retire by the end of 2010. If companies do not prepare new replacement right now. International competitiveness of America might be hampered. China rises as the second largest economy in the world after the U.S. People believe that there are sufficient talents within its over 1.3 billion population. Japan still challenges the U.S. auto industry with its well-established trademarks such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan.

Many positive minds are looking toward elite business schools such as Harvard and Wharton for hope. Others look toward high-powered consulting firms like McKinsey. The fact is regardless of unemployment rate increased to 10%, companies still find executive position among the five hardest positions to fill in 2009, according to the annual Manpower labor survey.

Collective involvement of multiple stakeholders will shape the future of leadership in America that is to come in the next decade.


Other Options

These are other options for the leadership case with briefing pros and cons:

Training programs

Who should the company target?

Pros: the company could choose whom to target and set up an propriate program to fit company’s need.

Cons: the program could be short, information might not be able to get through.

Companies should focus on preparing the inner lower level of the company

Pros: they know the work, the industry and how the current company good.

Cons: they might not have the vision that a leader of the company needs.

Companies should focus on seeking talents from the other companies/competitors

Pros: they will have a fresh view toward the company as an outsider.

Cons: they might have a hard time to adapt to the new environment in top management position.

International approach – Seeking talents from other countries

The biggest advertising agency in the world is WPP Group, a Great Britain company.

Pros: attract talents from emerging countries, international point of view.

Cons: many people want to take advantage of the program and are not really have what it takes to be a leader.

The educational approach

Set higher requirements for critical thinking and problem solving classes

Pros: the States could systematically nurture leaders since they were a child; this is a long-term vision and might be able to solve the problem from its root.

Cons: many people will not be able to meet the requirements and pass the class.

Offer more incentives for students at school such as prize/competition

Pros: people will study harder for the class because of the prize.

Cons: they might cheat for the prize; over-competitiveness might kill innovation and creativity.

What is Leadership?!

An inspirational video from gives us some clues what a leader could do.

Questions for Class Discussion

How could we confront the leadership crisis? (offer training programs/restructure organization/seek replacement by coaching  current employees)

Who should be targeted: MBA candidates or college students.

From what field should be targeted: technical or business minds.

From what size should be targeted: leaders from small companies or current employees of big corporation

From what countries should we targeted: give more scholarships for leadership programs internationally or domestically.

What Companies should Do?!

One option is to organize leadership programs and train new replacement for executive positions. Company could choose who to target and set up an appropriate program to fit company’s need. However, the bad aspects of this option are the lack of experiences, lack of motivation when they look at the job as a well-paid job. Besides, it does not conjure up the images of innovation or ideas. The program could be short and information might not be able to get through.

Another alternative is to restructure the work so that less directors are needed. This would require changes in organizational culture and supports from those in the top positions. The most advantage of this alternative is closing the hierarchical gap among managerial levels. Hence, candidates from lower levels would be encourage to confront top leaders. However, this option could also discourage young managers to aim at these positions as they perceived as less prestigious or desirable.

Others suggest that senior managers should look inward instead of outward for gems within the current organization because birds of a feather flock together. The benefits of this option is that new replacement will be able to continue leading the company with less obstacle comparing to outsiders. They know the work and they know clients that company is working with. Nevertheless, there might be less fresh air regarding old style of leadership because inherent leader will usually choose by previous leaders. Hence, they are expected to lead the company the old way.  It might also lead to high probability of manipulation and inability to solve problems  in a changing business environment.

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